June 24th, 2011
08:16 AM ET

A sex trafficker's worst nightmare

More than 17,000 women and girls from Nepal become sex slaves every year. Many end up in India, China or other Southeast Asian countries, and roughly half of them are children.

Anuradha Koirala - the 2010 CNN Hero of the Year - has been fighting to end this sex trafficking for nearly two decades. Since 1993, she and her organization, Maiti Nepal, have helped rescue and rehabilitate more than 12,000 women and girls.

Recently, Koirala partnered with actress Demi Moore on "Nepal's Stolen Children: A CNN Freedom Project Documentary." For the film, which premieres Sunday, Moore traveled to Nepal to meet Koirala and some of the people rescued by her group.

CNN's Kathleen Toner recently spoke with Koirala, 62, about how her life has changed since being honored as Hero of the Year and what work remains to be done.

Kathleen Toner: How did you feel when you were named Hero of the Year in November?

Anuradha Koirala: There were so many other people doing very good things who were being honored, so I wasn't expecting it. I was shocked.

I first thought of all of my girls at Maiti Nepal. I wished I was in front of them. I wished I was in my country. But I knew it was a chance to draw attention to the problem of sex trafficking.

When I returned home, they had a big rally with thousands of youths. I realized that the whole country was eager to work hard to make Nepal trafficking-free. It was wonderful.

Toner: How have things changed for you?

Koirala: I now feel that there is extra responsibility on me. I feel I must be even more committed since people around the globe are depending on me. I need to work even harder to get to the end.

We are working so hard. Our work is the same as before ... but (we want) to monitor more of the border crossings. The border with Tibet is a very important area. ... It's very difficult. People easily take a one-day pass to go across to Nepal, and no one monitors. We've found many girls being taken across the border and being used in different entertainment sectors and brothels, so now (we're considering) working there.

At this point, the most important thing we have to do is surveillance and stop, stop, stop girls from being exploited.

Toner: What was it like to work with Demi Moore on "Nepal's Stolen Children"?

Koirala: She was superb. I have seen artists, film stars, musicians and all kinds of celebrities, but often they look very snobbish, very superior. She was very down-to-Earth. She knew the issue and was really committed.

When we were working on the documentary, we had to go to the home of a girl who'd been trafficked, but it was very difficult. Her village was in the mountains, and her home was on a very steep hill. It was a very hard walk for half an hour.

(Moore) is very determined (to help). When she came to Maiti and met the girls, she was so good with the children. She really is committed to this issue. If more people like her come into this field, then maybe we will succeed someday.

Toner: What do people need to know about this issue?

Koirala: This problem of trafficking children and women needs to be addressed, because HIV and trafficking are synonymous with each other. The fundamental human rights of the girl child are being seriously violated. It is a heinous crime, and it harms the girls physically and psychologically. It's also increasing the transmission of HIV to a larger population.

We have to make more awareness, and everyone should be involved: NGOs, government ministries, police, media, community activists and the entire community. (We) can't reach every affected individual; families and communities need to be assisted and encouraged to take responsibility. ... At the end, the whole theme is sensitizing and increasing awareness of the public on a large scale.

Toner: It's such a widespread problem. Do you think that you are making progress?

Koirala: Yes. If not, I would not have been chosen (as CNN Hero of the Year). But more sensitizing and awareness is needed.

Nothing is impossible if the whole world collaborates. If CNN supports us, if the U.S. government supports us, if all of the world supports us, why can't we (end sex trafficking)? But I think I have to live also for another 20 years.

See the full story on CNN Hero Anuradha Koirala:
Rescuing girls from sex slavery

soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. Wolf

    Demi Moore can't find any victims here on her own soil? Nope...too much red tape to go through to help those here. Too risky. I guess it's only a noble cause if it's easy enough like going to visit some cherry picked home for victims in Nepal that has been in operation since 1983. Yeah, I guess what she's doing is positive but there's a lot of work to do here at home. But here at home lacks the glamor of Nepal.

    June 24, 2011 at 10:34 am | Reply
    • meme

      Demi Moore does have an organization that helps U.S. girls forced into prostitution, and from a different CNN article, it sounds as though she's using Maiti Nepal as a guide for her organization. Using one's celebrity status to open eyes to a good cause is actually a good thing.

      June 24, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Reply
    • chris

      have you been to nepal? have you seen the conditions girls endure here and in india? yes, there is work to be done at home, but in some ways it pales in comparison to the work that needs to be done globally. in the US, you have law enforcement and other organizations that combat this issue. here, it's still not all that taboo. so, rather than being cynical, i'd suggest a more positive outlook. perhaps you can list steps that people in the states can take to give this issue visibility and suggestions for things they can do as citizens: update their facebook wall with articles about trafficking in the US or call their congressman about new legislation.

      June 25, 2011 at 8:03 am | Reply
    • MasterKat

      Really, THAT'S what you took away from this article? You read about children being systematically sexually abused and you think "Wow, Demi Moore is self-righteous, unpatriotic publicity hound." I disagree with you, but either way is that really the most striking thing about this article?

      June 26, 2011 at 5:26 am | Reply
    • Qabloona

      t you are doing

      June 26, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Reply
    • geezus

      Omg its all peachy here it home!! I agree, i'm sick of these actors trying to stay in the limelight helping out third world countries, guess what? We are almost a third world country too!! We have starving adults kids and families, we have child sex slaves, we have illegal child labor, we have homeless people everywhere, we have over 10% unemployment(lots gave up looking for a job) We have a government that likes to spend spend spend what they don't have. Seems like demi would help the people that made her rich, but instead she is giving it to people that don't know who she even is!!

      June 26, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Reply
      • AnnGurry

        americans who compare the economic conditions in the usa with impoverished countries like nepal are so misinformed and willfully ignorant that they deserved to be slapped-no, BEATEN. i have worked in the ghettos of the usa and i have worked in nepal, and the conditions in usa ghettos look like paradise compared to nepal. that's right-PARADISE! an apartment in the worst projects of chicago would look like a penthouse apartment in trump towers to 95% of nepalis.

        it is so disgusting how ignorant, selfish, and whining americans are. americans complain if they if they dont have gas for their SUV-nepalis are lucky to have shoes to walk on in winter. there seems to be a media echo chamber telling americans how poor they are and what victims they are. there is no question that the economy in america is stagnating, but this is true of most of the world. americans are not victims of some nightmare catastrophe, and the economic downturn is due to american military aggression and greedy industrialists. despite the downturn, u idiot americans, u still have the largest economy in the world. it doesnt make me shed a tear when americans whine about their wallets shrinking. it sounds like a millionaire complaining about the cost of flying his personal jet for a weekend of shopping in paris or sailing his yacht to sun on the riviera. americans really need to get off this 'oh, poor us. we give and we give, and we get nothing for our generosity' self-pitying routine. it's a false image and it makes you look either stupid or unbearably selfish.
        phew........i had to get that rant out. but it's true. in spite of some very modest belt tightening, americans and the west have it good-very good. and there r safety nets to help the poor. americans have food, shelter, medical care, clean water. life is well above mere sustenance. nepalis dont even have words for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. its just 'food' and u eat it when u can get it. this is why they send [sell] their children, whom they love with great passion, off to india in the hope of a job. they cant afford to put a grain of rice in their mouths. they cant afford the $1 monthly school fees. they cant afford a pencil. they have nothing. no heat in their houses and no running water-if u can even call it a house.
        a hot shower to them is an unbelievable luxury. they have no showers, let alone with hot water. [o/c, there are a tiny minority of rich ppl who actually have a house with hot, running water and drive around in an actual car, as if they r kings.] most of nepal dosnt even have roads to drive on.
        some ppl say that 'charity begins at home.' they take that to mean that you sd give to the neediest in your own country/family. i think it means u learn to be generous and caring at home and u give to the ppl who are most in need-no matter where they are in the world. america has its needy. but it is nothing-NOTHING-compared with the need in other parts of the world. there is no needier person in the world, and no more deserving of help and charity, than 9 yr old nepali girls who are taken to india, enslaved, beaten, and raped all day and night.
        i am so angry at the selfish, ignorant americans who say 'oh poor us-how we suffer- we need the charity in the usa' that, honestly, i wd like to see struck hit by lightning. they deserve it. stop being stupid, selfish, self-pitying pigs. charity doesnt have national borders, for god's sake.
        PS-why do americans live in a world of myths and fall for every media delusion? do u all sit on yr couch and watch too much TV?

        June 27, 2011 at 10:46 am |
  2. A Student from Burma

    This is amazing! Such an inspiration for all of us. I wish Anuradha all the best, and I wish, one day, we could all join hands to defend children of disadvantage.

    June 24, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Reply
  3. Mike

    Unfortunately there is no hope for the human race. There are far too many people on this Planet right now(7billion) to solve the problems. The population TRIPPLES every 80-90 years. By 2100 there will be more than 20 billion people on the Planet. None of the problems will be solved only exacerbated. What you see now is a paradise compared to what will exist then. I pity those humans of the future. Beyond a living H.ell.

    June 24, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Reply
    • p-10

      WAR is good business, and unfortunately our way of population control. And that is exactly why nobody will ever find or be CURED of major diseases,like CANCER........Medical professioals rely on diseases to keep them in business, right down to he funeral director.profit for the drug companies to find TREATMENTS and NOT A CURE.

      June 24, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Reply
    • Veronica

      There has always been prostitution. Wherever you find men you will find a demand for sex. If there were only two people on the planet and one was male...well you get the idea. Supply and demand.

      June 24, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Reply
    • Avenger

      I agree. Instead of trying to resolve the problem by looking at the root of it many powerful people are trying to desensitize us and normalize it. The ending result, causing more problems and repeating past mistakes to the point where it becomes exceeding worse. There are so many who have tried to fight so hard for our rights and equality but instead of supporting them most people just end up taking a step back by allowing themselves to be exploited and stereotyped. This in turn leads those of us who want equality to suffer the consequences. There are too many weak minded people in this world. We must become the change we want to see. Women and men of all races are no different from each other. We are the human race. There is nothing that sets us apart and its stupid to believe the theories that men and women are different (obviously other than physically). We all deserve respect. It is our culture that stereotypes and genderizes us causing us to be brought up in different paths but if we could actually walk in each others shoes we would see that we are not different. The world is lead by the blind and the few strong willed people have to fight harder everyday for their equality. We are the whole. Save us all with not just words, let resolution be our voice. I stand firm in my solidarity. The path I walk, I walk in with my own resolve.

      July 12, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Reply
  4. p-10

    world's oldest profession, but being forced to par take is just flaly not right

    June 24, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Reply
  5. elio rios

    Jesuschrist is the answer for each individual human being and until He returns things will not get better.

    June 24, 2011 at 9:08 pm | Reply
  6. yes!

    @elio rios PRAISE GOD! PRAISE GOD! I completely agree with you! Always nice to hear another christian response. Jesus Christ IS the ONLY way for change to happen in this corrupt world we live in. That's why we as christians need to do our duty and preach the gospel everywhere.

    June 25, 2011 at 12:07 am | Reply
    • SSK

      Dumb-ass religious comments – the world does not need Jesus Christ or any other God. The world needs more people of good virtue like Anuradha!

      June 25, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Reply
  7. ajd041

    I just hate how people always bring religion into everything every blog on here there's a religious comment yes believe and pray but things like this can't be solved by that we need actions and at least demi is trying to help

    June 25, 2011 at 12:17 am | Reply
    • cris

      You are painfully correct. Keep up the good.

      July 20, 2011 at 2:21 am | Reply
  8. A survivor

    Thank you Anuradha Koirala. You may not be able to save all the girls in the world, but through your efforts you have changed the world through one girl's eyes, again and again.

    June 25, 2011 at 1:23 am | Reply
  9. A Soldier in Korea

    Anuradha Koirala and Demi Moore, you are doing a wonderful thing. God will judge every individual accordingly.

    Anyone can make a difference. It is sad that there are monster like individuals in this world to do such a thing either for money and pleasure; perhaps both. It's all meaningless and scars/shatters the life of individual. Some suffer with HIV at a young age? Not only you shatter their dreams in becoming a future mother and having kids; they must live with this until there entire lives. Justice will be served in the end. I hope the ones that are doing this peer deep down their own souls because they're endangering them(or already have) with these type of actions IMO.

    Just like Anuradha said what if it was one of your daughters? Furthermore, mothers, nieces, sisters, etc?

    I have no place to judge on what happens to others but I have high faith that GOD will judge them accordingly!!!!!!

    Oh, and the bad karma bank is always thirsty for more.

    June 25, 2011 at 2:04 am | Reply
  10. Bob

    Smuggle arms to the girls so they can shoot the #$% pimps who have shed their humanity and become parasitic insects. The sex trade industry is the wild west and needs a wild west solution.

    June 25, 2011 at 3:05 am | Reply
  11. ryan stancle

    Thats crazy because women let niggaz fuk it up 4 real ppl

    June 25, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Reply
    • Ebony

      Thank you so much for this arlitce, it saved me time!

      July 1, 2011 at 11:09 pm | Reply
  12. localhost

    I'm not seeing the "sex trafficker's worst nightmare" part of the article. It actually seems that this is good for the trafficker. Anuradha rescues the girls which apparently creates a need for more stolen girls. This creates more opportunities for the trafficker to increase their revenue stream.

    It's a nice article and all, but with a deceiving headline. I liked the other article where the trafficker/buyer ended up with 17 years prison (after stealing at least one girl's adolescence).

    June 25, 2011 at 11:56 pm | Reply
  13. larry a banker from nigeria

    Governments all over the world should have the courage to bring to book perpetrators of this kind of crime and violence againt vulnerable women and girls.It is unacceptable.God bless koirala and moore for their efforts at exposing man's inhumanity to his fellow humanbeing and i hope this will make a difference in the war againt human traffiking and prostitution in nepal and the collaborating neighbours.

    June 26, 2011 at 3:57 am | Reply
    • Chizara

      Oga Banker, we don"t need to know that you are a banker. That being said, we don't need talk and praise, we need action. Mr. Big Shot do something, the person you are praising is doing something.

      June 27, 2011 at 9:11 am | Reply
  14. sksayeeds

    send me the news on cnn project trafficker worst night

    June 26, 2011 at 4:09 am | Reply
    • sksayeeds


      July 18, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Reply
  15. Mortran

    As long as there are people who use force to ban prostitution, it is only fair that there are other people who use force to promote prostitution. Legalize prostitution or face the consequences.

    June 26, 2011 at 5:01 am | Reply
    • AnnGurry

      i think somebody needs to warn u that your brain is damaged. is it hard being that dimwitted? u must either feel confused all the time or think u have all the answers. what u wrote provides clinical proof that your mind is just not functioning. take some time to think about what u wrote. if you cant see how stupid it is, well.........good luck. and try not to be a danger to yourself or others.
      Mortran's book of law
      As long as there are people who use force to ban prostitution, it is only fair that there are other people who use force to promote prostitution. Legalize prostitution or face the consequences.
      As long as there are people who use force to ban child abuse, it is only fair that there are other people who use force to promote child abuse. Legalize child abuse or face the consequences.
      as long at their are people who use force to ban robbery, it is only fair that there are other people who use force to promote robbery. legalize robbery! [mortran, see if u can steal a working brian]

      btw mortran-i think prostitution sd be decriminalized, but that's a whole other story and has NOTHING to do with this article .

      June 27, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Reply
  16. Abagana Doo

    As far as Some people are so rich that they can BUY others and Others are so poor that they offer themselves for SALE :As far as 3rd World countries swallow in corruption & poverty they shall always provide enough Children & Adults for prostitution.Thanks to Lady T for her Initiative!

    June 26, 2011 at 5:13 am | Reply
    • A Soldier in Korea

      @ Abagana Doo

      I can't believe what your actually saying. It still does not make it RIGHT for others to BUY others regardless if a country is poor. You think the little girls choose to offer themselves for sale? Did you see the videos posted? It is mentioned that some are tricked and promised a good paying job/work. The Soldier in Korea thinks your logic is far beyond ludicrous saying "they shall always provide enough Children & Adults for prostitution.". NO HUMAN BEING should be sold for sexual favors period(especially children). If you tolerate or think this is even acceptable; I have no others words for you and that you should re-evaluate your morals seriously because it is highly questionable.

      June 26, 2011 at 6:15 am | Reply
      • aj

        Well Said!

        June 26, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
      • geezus

        this kind of crap happens when people have kids with no money to support or raise a family, i wonder how many of these kids are born from prostitution? Demi should hand out birth country!!

        June 26, 2011 at 8:50 pm |
  17. dirar

    We,men,are to blame and to be stoned

    June 26, 2011 at 10:31 am | Reply
  18. Iron Scepter


    June 26, 2011 at 10:24 pm | Reply
  19. Name* praised

    Both ladies shld b honoured 4 their efforts in combating trafficking in persons. Lesotho cn learn so much frm these leant lessons.

    June 26, 2011 at 10:31 pm | Reply
  20. howard fein

    Nepal is unique. They are tripling their population from 1950 levels when they were a closed country. As the West intrudes, the survival rates will cripple the country economically because arable land doesn't grow on trees. Many fathers are literally forced to SELL their own daughters for the money just to get along. They are so poor there, it's unbelievable. Just like the drugs in the U.S., the demand is unstoppable and voracious. They are doing a marvelous work, but in 10 years, it'll be 10 times worse. Also, women are held in a position lower than cattle there, and THAT will not change.

    June 26, 2011 at 11:52 pm | Reply
  21. santosh subba

    nepal is one of the poorest country in the world....today she is the victims of different political institution....communist, congress..maoist....ect more than 30...politicatical institution where there leader made a huge promise which made of lies....
    like els where in the world. if anyone come up with this huge project to liberate victim of the sex trafficking...is none other then anuradha koirala, she bold , courageous and fully dedicated women. we salute her and her works.

    June 27, 2011 at 4:12 am | Reply
  22. Tanya

    Unfortunately this is happening all over the world right now and it's truly sad to see that the reality of this situation stays the same, no matter where it happens. Anuradha does an amazing work and it's awesome to see more people wanting to get involved in saving these girls. Awareness like this is necessary and it will curb this horrific business, but it's also about the men who use these girls. If they stop, then the problem will no longer persist, but because of the demand, supply will still exist. Men also need to stand up and realize that this is a problem and the problem starts with them, most of the time.

    June 28, 2011 at 9:23 am | Reply
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